On a small uninhabited island that’s but a small dot on the Pacific, 15 marooned people joined hands to form a giant “SOS” on the beach. Washed up in a deserted paradise, all the castaways could do was to hope that someone would spot them.

It sounds like an episode of “Survivor” but the 15 people — six children and nine adults — are from Chuuk, a group of islands in the Federated States of Micronesia. And this was no television drama.

Missing since Tuesday, after their small boat hit a coral reef and overturned, the castaways were finally spotted and are awaiting rescue by the U.S. Coast Guard, said spokesman Ensign Richard Russell.

He said they would be rescued after daylight Saturday.

The 15 people — between the ages of 4 and 59 — were heading from Chuuk to Ruo Island for an outing for the children. Their skiff’s hull was damaged when they hit the coral reef, Russell said.

They dragged the hull to the beach and waited. Their only link to the outside world was a solar-powered radio.

A long-range Navy search plane flew over the area after the Coast Guard received a report of the missing skiff from another vessel in the area.

“Once on scene, the aircraft reported back that a damaged vessel was overturned on the beach and several crude shelters had been erected on the beach,” a Coast Guard statement said.

“Three other boats could be seen on the island and people on the shore began waving at the plane as it soared overhead.”

It was like finding a needle in a haystack, Russell said. A 28-foot boat lost in the world’s largest ocean.

The Chuuk State Department of Transportation reported the boat missing to the Coast Guard Tuesday morning when it was overdue at Ruo Island.

The national government of the Micronesian federation, the Chuuk state government and the Guam sector of the Coast Guard coordinated a joint search to find the boat.

The Federated States of Micronesia is a democratic island group in the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and Indonesia. Independent since 1986, the vast archipelago of hundreds of tiny islands comprises a land mass of just 702 square miles, about the size of Singapore. It includes the Chuuk Islands, Yap Islands, Kosrae and Pohnpei.

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